My child has food allergies — what should I look for when reading food labels? - Alyson Carefully reading food labels is one of the most important things parents can do when their child has a food allergy. Always avoid any food whose label says it contains your child's allergen. And keep these tips in mind: Check ingredient lists and look for advisory statements such as "Contains peanuts." Some companies also voluntarily share cross-contamination warnings, such as "May contain soy," "Processed in a facility that also processes shellfish," or "Manufactured on equipment also used for tree nuts." But manufacturers do not have to list cross-contamination warnings. Since products without advisory statements also might be cross-contaminated and the company chose not to label for it, it is always best to contact the company to see if the product could contain ingredients that your child is allergic to. In the United States, companies must state, in understandable language, if a product contains one of the eight most common food allergens: peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, milk, wheat, soy, fish, and crustacean shellfish. Know the limits of food labels. Not all allergens will be included in ingredient lists or named in a recognizable way. Sometimes, an allergen could be hidden in a long list of scientific-sounding ingredients or included in "natural flavors," "coloring," "spices," or other additives. Double-check every package of food you give your child — once in the supermarket and once before you give it to your child. This is important even if your child has had the product many times before. Ingredients and cross-contamination risks may change over time. Different size products may have different ingredients or be made in different facilities. Remember to check non-food items, too, because they're not subject to labeling regulations. Allergens may be found in cosmetics, bath supplies, cleaning supplies, sunscreens, art supplies, kitchen sponges, and gardening supplies. Look up any ingredient that you're not sure about, and call the company with any questions. Back to Articles Related Articles Word! Allergy Shots and Immunotherapy Imagine if you were always sneezing because you were allergic to something. Read More Learning About Allergies During an allergic reaction, your body's immune system goes into overdrive. Find out more in this article for kids. Read More Shellfish Allergy Shellfish allergies can be serious - and shellfish can appear in some surprising foods and products. Read about shellfish allergy and what to do when a reaction is severe. Read More Nut and Peanut Allergy Peanuts are one of the most common allergy-causing foods, and they often find their way into things you wouldn't imagine. Learn the facts on living with a nut or peanut allergy. 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Read More Food Labels Look at any packaged food and you'll see the food label. This nutrition facts label gives the lowdown on everything from calories to cholesterol. Read more about food labels. Read More 5 Ways to Be Prepared for an Allergy Emergency Quick action is essential during a serious allergic reaction. It helps to remind yourself of action steps so they become second nature if there's an emergency. Here's what to do. Read More Serious Allergic Reactions (Anaphylaxis) A person with severe allergies can be at risk for a sudden, serious allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. This reaction can seem scary, but the good news is it can be treated. Read More Fish Allergy Fish allergy can cause a serious reaction. Find out how to keep kids safe. Read More Soy Allergy Soy is found in many foods and it's a common food allegy. Find out how to help kids with an allergy stay safe. Read More Wheat Allergy Wheat allergy can cause serious reactions. Find out how to help kids with an allergy stay safe. Read More Food Allergies Doctors are diagnosing more and more people with food allergies. Knowing what to expect and how to deal with food allergies can make a big difference in preventing serious illness. Read More Food Allergies Struggling with strawberries? Petrified of peanuts? Sorry you ate shellfish? Maybe you have a food allergy. Find out more in this article for kids. Read More Food Allergies: How to Cope With food allergies, preventing a reaction means avoiding that food entirely. But sometimes allergens can be hidden in places you don't expect. Here are tips on living with a food allergy. Read More Going to School With Food Allergies With preparation and education, a child with a food allergy can stay safe at school. Read More Shellfish Allergy Shellfish allergy can cause serious reactions. Find out common symptoms of allergic reactions and how to respond. Read More Food Allergies Food allergies can cause serious and even deadly reactions in kids, so it's important to know how to feed a child with food allergies and to prevent reactions. Read More Serious Allergic Reactions (Anaphylaxis) Kids with severe allergies can be at risk for a sudden, serious allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. The good news is that when treated properly, anaphylaxis can be managed. Read More Nut and Peanut Allergy If your child is allergic to nuts or peanuts, it's essential to learn what foods might contain them and how to avoid them. Read More Egg Allergy Helping your child manage an egg allergy means reading food labels carefully, being aware of what he or she eats, and carrying the right medicines in case of an allergic reaction. Read More Egg Allergy Living with an egg allergy means you have to be aware of what you're eating and read food labels carefully. Here are some tips for teens who have an egg allergy. Read More Nut and Peanut Allergy A growing number of kids are allergic to nuts and peanuts. Find out more about this problem and how allergic kids can stay healthy. Read More Egg Allergy Babies sometimes have an allergic reaction to eggs. If that happens, they can't eat eggs for a while. But the good news is that most kids outgrow this allergy by age 5. Read More Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2021 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.